I first heard the news from Ali Karim on Twitter Tuesday morning. Then Sarah Weinman posted the news as relayed by Parker's U.K. publisher Quercus that he had died "just sitting at his desk." Having said many times he would keep writing novels until a) he died, or b) no one bought them, I think this is just how he'd want to go.
Parker's Spenser was the first P.I. series I read, over the summer of 1993. By summer's end I'd caught up to his current book. Six years later, I was known on many Parker discussion lists as one of his toughest critics, but this was only because his books had such an influence on me I hated to see him turn in less than his best. Looking back, I can think of no better writer with whom to fall in love with mystery, poetry, depth, the resonance of language, than Robert B. Parker.
If I hadn't begun to moderate my own Parker discussion list in 1999, I could very well have gone on reading him for sheer pleasure, forgiving him the foibles every writer has. Indeed, it's to Parker's credit that he kept me from seeing his flaws so long, that even as I hear he has passed, I don't believe it.